9 big ideas that should have been in the budget Why it's a good idea: Chasing student debts to the grave sounds like political poison, but it's not as radical as it first appears.
The change would bring HECS into line with mortgages and credit card debts that are recovered from deceased estates. Economist Bruce Chapman, the architect of HECS, has backed the idea by saying: "There is nothing in the principles of economics that suggest this should be off the table." He adds that it wouldn't put students off going to university. Higher education policy expert Andrew Norton says the change would eventually rake in hundreds of millions of dollars a year and help restrain the soaring cost of HECS. And it's far better than slashing university funding or forcing students to pay dramatically higher fees. Why it won't happen: The government is officially considering the idea, but it would be a risky move. Labor and the Greens would label it a "death tax" on students. Recovering HECS from deceased estates would also be complex to administer and the savings would only become substantial many years down the track. That means the government would have to wear the political pain for little short term budgetary gain. MATTHEW KNOTTHigh Speed Rail from Melbourne Canberra Sydney Brisbane Why it's a good idea: Imagine it Melbourne to Sydney in an hour, CBD to CBD, no annoying flight delays or airport lounges. Canberra would be even quicker, pressure would be taken off the world's fifth busiest air route and pollution reduced; in time, Brisbane would be connected too. High speed rail has been the holy grail of infrastructure projects in Australia since first flagged in the early 1980s. The most recent report on the project, from 2013, calculated the economic benefit cost ratio would be 2.5 for Sydney Melbourne and 2.3 for the whole network. Fares would cover the cost of the network. How a high speed rail link from Sydney Canberra Melbourne could look. Why it won't happen: An estimated $114 billion cost, a staggering sum even with record low interests rates when the federal budget is deep in the red. 1748km of track. 60 plus kilometres of tunnelling. A 2065 completion date. Federal and state inertia. Competing international consortiums like Hyperloop One and CLARA talk a big game, but their plans never seem to go anywhere. Likely to never happen. JAMES MASSOLAMake all high income earners pay the Medicare levy surcharge Why it's a good idea: At the moment, only high income earners without private health insurance are made to pay the 1 to 1.5 per cent surcharge. But apply it to all families earning more than $180,000 or singles earning more than $90,000 and you could raise an extra $13.4 billion over four years, according to recent Parliamentary Budget Office costings. This would go a long way towards making Medicare more sustainable, which is exactly what the Coalition says it wants to do. The extra burden would fall on a small number of relatively well off people the top 20 per cent of households some of whom will be getting tax relief when the deficit levy is taken off on July 1. Why it won't happen: It would be a rollback of the Howard government private health insurance policies and it would certainly hurt the insurers, who would campaign against it. Also, it's an idea recently floated by the Greens and the government doesn't typically like following their lead (although they did poach their bank levy idea). ADAM GARTRELLA nationwide transition from stamp duty to land tax Why it's a good idea: It would be the single most effective transition of taxes. A tax on land is considered among the most efficient of all taxes because it is hard to avoid, targets the rich more than the ray ban large metal poor, and unlike stamp duty, does not discourage people from buying or downsizing to a smaller home, and therefore provides both an economic and budgetary boost. According to PwC it would also increase supply and housing affordability. A costing of a Green's proposal in March found the loans to the states would peak at $800 million in 2020, while saving home buyers up to $40,000 in stamp duty in Sydney and $55,000 in Melbourne, and delivering billions of dollars to fund schools and hospitals. The federal government thinks it's a good idea, the states think it's a good idea, and the Parliamentary Budget Office has already costed it, but it will never happen. Why it won't happen: Because it would require the federal government to subsidise the states' addiction to stamp duty, weening them off lucrative tax dollars by making up the shortfall out of the federal budget. ERYK BAGSHAW???90 days parental leave for dads Why it's a good idea: In Australia, where new dads get two weeks of government sponsored parental leave at the minimum wage, it is rare for men to be the primary carers for their children. According to the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development, only 2 per cent of Australian dads take extended parental leave. ray ban sunglasses images This compares to around 40 per cent who take leave in some Nordic countries. For example, in Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave. Of this, 90 days are set aside specifically for dads under a "use it or lose it" clause. The policy, which cost Sweden about $A3.75 billion in 2015, helps women re enter the workforce after a baby and sees family roles more equally shared between men and women. The OECD has recommended the introduction of "daddy quotas" like Sweden's to help legitimise fathers taking leave elsewhere around the world. A Sydney father and his acrobatic daughter, pictured at home in the mid 1950s. Why it won't happen: Since 2015, the Coalition has been seeking to reduce parental leave entitlements for the primary carer (usually the mother), with no discussion about changes to dad or partner pay. Sweden's scheme is largely funded through high taxes on Swedish companies. In Australia, the government is all about cutting company tax rates. JUDITH IRELANDA universal basic income Why it's a good idea: What would you do, if income wasn't an issue? A universal basic income is essentially a guarantee from the government that regardless of where else you receive money benefits, supplements, employment you will receive a set, and unconditional, amount of money to use as you please. In Canada, the Ontario Basic Income Pilot has just started with the aim of reinvigorating provinces that have suffered under economic downturns. The government will pay the 4000 chosen participants either just under $17,000 (for singles) or $24,000 (couples) new wayfarer ray ban every year for three years at a total cost of just under $A150 million. Finland and Kenya are also testing the idea, with the hope that raising the income of citizens raises quality of life, helps keep people employed and will give people some breathing room, as automation and the gig economy the shift towards short term contracts, rather than full time employment gains momentum. Why it won't happen: While most people would welcome help from the government, regardless of income, the question of who would pay for it looms large. And with welfare spending already under the spotlight and forming the foundation of Scott Morrison's 'bad debt', handing tax free funds to people regardless of their income, with no strings attached, would be met with howls of disbelief and incredulity. In this climate, any move towards something like a basic income trial would be political suicide. AMY REMEIKISBoost foreign aid spending Why it's a good idea: Foreign aid is more than charity. Done effectively, it bolsters Australia's credentials as a responsible international player, projects soft power into target countries, saves lives and strengthens economies, human rights and global stability. But right now, Australian aid spending is at a record low. Only a few years ago, the Coalition and Labor were both committed to increased spending of 0.5 per cent of gross national income. Australia is also signed up to the UN's Millennium Development Goals, which mandate 0.7 of GNI per cent by 2020. Instead, spending will bottom out at 0.21 per cent or roughly $3.9 billion in the coming years. This amounts to less than 1 per cent of budget expenditure. While Australia is slashing, other developed countries are boosting. As cash for Australian branded schools in Indonesia has collapsed, Saudi Arabian support for hardline Wahhabist madrassas has exploded. In Britain, the Conservative government has locked in spending at 0.7 per cent and stuck by it. Sweden is at 1.4 per cent. Why it won't happen: Increasing foreign aid doesn't win votes and cutting it doesn't lose them. Such is the average voter's misinterpretation of the size of aid spending that, according to polling, many believe it costs Australia more than 10 times what it actually does. It's also a trouble free saving because the government doesn't need to pass it through Parliament. All this makes foreign aid the softest of targets for a government seeking to cut the budget deficit. FERGUS HUNTERGive the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax some teeth Why ray ban sunglasses it's a good idea: Australia is on the precipice of becoming the world super power for gas exports. Multinational fossil fuel giants like Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron will soon be notching annual sales of $50 billion. That is $50 billion of a resource, owned by the Australian population, sucked out of the sea bed and sold to Asian countries, predominantly Japan. Under the PRRT, which is a super profits based tax much like Labor's abandoned mining tax, those companies will not pay a cent for the resource for decades to come. No state royalties, nothing. An improved PRRT would start bringing in much need money from Australia's petroleum and gas reserves. Why it won't happen: The recent Callaghan review into the PRRT acknowledged design faults and the decades long wait for revenue but only recommended fundamental changes to the system for new entrants into the sector because companies invested under the status quo. The government has shown little appetite to take on the sector over PRRT, instead choosing to fight the battle over domestic gas supply on the east coast. HEATH ASTONEnd tax exemptions for religious organisations Why it's a good idea: If you really want to make money, start a religion. Under the Charities Act, an entity whose purpose is "advancing religion" is exempt from most of the tax system on the dubious assumption its activities are "for the public benefit". The easy financial ride extends to income tax, GST, land taxes, council rates and stacks of others. Some estimates have put the figure at $30 billion a year going untaxed, half of it from the Catholic church. Taxing the churches at a reasonable rate might not eliminate the deficit overnight but it would help fix the budget structurally and would, in the eyes of most Australians, be fair. An Essential Media poll taken last year found 64 per cent of Australians disapproved of religious organisations being tax exempt. Why it won't happen: Like gay marriage, ending tax exemptions for churches is popular with most people, but will upset key demographics.
Most politicians at least profess to be religious and conservative Coalition voters would be livid at such a change. The churches would mobilise against the move and besides, the government has said it is against raising taxes on principle. MICHAEL KOZIOL.
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